As your pregnancy progresses, you may find yourself short of breath. Shortness of breath typically begins before the twentieth week of pregnancy and continues into the third trimester. You may find you have to rest more frequently during physical activity. Shortness of breath during pregnancy is usually mild and should not disrupt your day to day activities.
What causes shortness of breath in pregnancy?
Your uterus expands during pregnancy putting pressure on your diaphragm. This pressure keeps your lungs from expanding fully causing shortness of breath.
Another contributor to shortness of breath in pregnancy is progesterone. Progesterone is a hormone found during pregnancy. Progesterone has many effects on your body and helps to maintain pregnancy. It has a relaxing effect on muscles which helps to keep the uterus from contracting. This relaxing effect actually relaxes the muscles supporting the lungs. Progesterone also changes the body's sensitivity to carbon dioxide. Normally when you breath, as the carbon dioxide increases, you need to get rid of it. So as your body becomes more sensitive to it, you will feel the need to breath off carbon dioxide. Moreover, this can leave the pregnant mother feeling winded and short of breath.
Other causes of shortness of breath
Shortness of breath can have other causes such as anemia and more seriously heart disease or pulmonary disease. If the shortness of breath you are experiencing is severe or you are experiencing accompanied chest pain, coughing up blood, dizziness, or you do not feel relief from symptoms upon resting, contact your doctor as this could be something more serious.
What can I do to relieve shortness of breath in pregnancy?
Shortness of breath in pregnancy should resolve with rest. Avoid overexertion. Schedule breaks and rest periods when taking on physical activities. Avoid prolonged standing. Prolonged standing can leave you feeling short of breath and dizzy. Use good posture. Sitting up straight can help your lungs to fully expand when breathing. Using pillows to elevate yourself when resting or sleeping may also help.